Beer Brewing: Phase One

This past Friday, my friends and I went to the Eagle Rock Brewing Co, a new Brewery that recently opened not far from our place, to taste some of their brews and visit a Vietnamese noodle truck that happened to be parked out front.

The beer was excellent, especially their seasonal Libertine Imperial Amber Wit. The most memorable part of the night though, was the tour that Jeremy Raub, owner and Brew master of the place gave us. You could tell this guy was passionate about brewing, and knew what he was doing. Listening to him talk about the process and challenges of brewing inspired me to finally try my hand at home brewing, something I have been wanting to do for some time.

The Goods

On Sunday, My roommates and I got up bright and early, and headed out at around noon to the Culver City Home Brew supply store. This place is a great resource for new home brewers. The owner was really helpful in getting us going with the right equipment, and all the ingredients to brew our first batch. I highly recommend stopping here first if you are thinking of picking up home brewing. They even offer free classes a couple times a month where they walk you through the brew process step by step (I signed up for the next available class which isn’t till mid march).

Mash

Mash

We decided to start the brewing on Monday after work since the process takes around 3 hours. When I got home we realized we needed to get some drinking water and a 5 gallon pot that we weren’t able to get on Sunday and so we made a run to Sam’s club to pick up the supplies and didn’t get started until about 9pm.

The first thing we had to do was heat up a 2 quart pot to just below boiling to stoop the grains. Once we started this, we also started the 3 gallons of water we needed to bring to a boil. Once the smaller pot was at the appropriate temperature, we added the grains and stooped for 30 minutes. Our house doesn’t have the most modern stove, so we were a little worried we wouldn’t be able to get the larger pot boiling by the time the stooping

was complete, but luckily it began to boil just in time.

Adding the Hops

Adding the Hops

After stooping, we poured the stooped grains through a strainer into the boiling water to create what is called mash. We then boiled the mash for an hour, adding our two types of hops at the beginning and 45 minutes in respectively. More acidic hops are boiled for longer, and hops added toward the end of the boiling process are more noticeable in the beer’s flavor and aroma.

While the boiling is taking place, we use a special sterilizing liquid to ensure our fermenting bucket and anything that will come in contact with the beer from here on out is sterile.

Once the boiling is complete, we have to cool the mash down before we can add it to the fermenting bucket and pitch the yeast. We cooled it by filling the sink up with cold water, and placing the pot inside the sink, running the water in the sink to keep the temperature low. We also had to make sure none of the tap water got into the pot, as any wild yeast could ruin the beer.

Fermenting Bucket

Fermenting Bucket

Once cooled, we poured the mash through a (sterile) strainer into the fermenting bucket. We then added (pitched) our yeast to the mash. The yeast will convert the sugars in the brew to alcohol, and release CO2. We measured a sample of our brew to see home much sugar content it had, and hence the potential for alcohol. Our measurement determined our beer could be up to 6% by volume, although it is unlikely it will be that high.

We then sealed our bucket about 12:30am, the whole process taking about 3.5 hours. I was pretty tired after all that, but we had a lot of cleaning up to do.

Now we wait, about a week, while the beer ferments before we can move onto the next step. Stay tuned….

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that we did use extract in addition to our grains which we added to the mash pot right before we added the grain stoop. You can find the entire recipe here.

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A New Year

Hello there.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I bet you thought you wouldn’t be hearing from me any longer.

Well, I’ve decided I’ve neglected this blog long enough.

This year I’ve decided to make a resolution. That resolution is to make an new resolution every month and keep it indefinitely. In January, my resolution was to read at least one book a month. A resolution I have so far kept by completing “Waltzing with Bears” just in time for February.

February’s resolution is to write at least one blog post a month. It doesn’t matter what it is about. It could be a technical post about one of my projects, or it could be a personal post about the drama in my life. Either way, I’ve decided I need to keep my writing sharp (or perhaps sharpen it) but continuing to exercise my writing skills.

If I feel really ambitious you may see multiple posts from me a month, but at the very minimum I will get one in.

As always, stay tuned….

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A New Day

Today America gets a second chance. A chance to change a failing foreign policy. A chance to rebuild our failing economy and infrastructure. A chance to set our priorities straight.

This is not, and cannot be the job of just one man. It will take all of us to make America what it once was.

It starts here:

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“Who throws a shoe, Honestly?”

President Bush gets attacked by a man throwing his shoes at him during a press conference during Bush’s last visit to Iraq as sitting US President.

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A Clockwork Green Beta

I am excited to announce the open beta of A Clockwork Green, a side project I have been working on in my spare time.

A Clockwork Green allows you to keep track of time you spend on different projects by simply starting or stopping the clock, and providing a description of what you worked on during that time. It started as a tool I was using myself for my freelance projects, but I decided to open it up so others could use it and help with ideas to improve it.

This first release is very basic and doesn’t provide much reporting, but I plan to use feedback and feature requests from beta users in order to determine what direction I should take with new features.

Please take a minute to try it out. http://aclockworkgreen.com/

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Last.fm Act 2

So here I am again. I have reapplied for the PHP Developer position at Last.fm.

Ever since May 2007 when I first visited Last.fm I knew it was the place for me. I applied and interviewed, but ultimately did not get the job because I had very little experience and no visa to work in the UK. One year later, I’ve got a year of real working experience under my belt and a path to a visa if necessary.

The year I have spent at Mobile Messenger has been an extremely valuable one. I have learned so much, not only about web development and the business world, but about myself as well. I have grown as a web developer and as a leader, and while I know I have a much more to learn in both areas, I feel I have much more to offer than I did a year ago. I am grateful to MM for this experience, but I’m ready to move out of LA.

If Last.fm is interested I would love for them to sponsor me for a visa. This path would be much less risky for me, and be much easier in the long run. However, I am fully committed, and would apply for a High Skilled Immigrant Programme visa which would allow me to move to the UK without first obtaining a job. Of course I wouldn’t go through this trouble unless I had a shot at the job, so I’m holding off on that one until I hear back from them.

So few things in life do I allow myself to truely want. I usually shelter myself from rejection and disappointment by convincing myself that “it would be cool if this happened, but if not…no big deal”. This is something that I have decided I truely want, and I intent on putting myself out there, even if I am crushed.

Now, if I could only apply that attitude to other area’s in my life…

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SXSW 2009 Anyone?

Ok, I am set on going to SXSW 2009 next March. Anyone else interested?

I’m planning on attending the interactive festival, but I’d like to catch a couple of the films and definately as many music acts as I can while I’m there.

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Vitamin String Quartet

A few years ago I found the album “String Tribute to AFI” at Amoeba Records in Berkeley and, being a huge AFI fan, I was intrigued. I wasn’t necessarily a fan of strings, but I felt AFI would make for some rather interesting string covers, so I bought it.

I thouroughly enjoyed it, and even found “String Tribute to The Killers” shortly after, which I also really liked. After a while I forgot about these awesome string covers and went about my business.

…until this week.

I stumbled upon the Last.fm page for Vitamin String Quartet, who performs all these string covers.  I was surprised to learn that they have over 250 albums of string covers of bands from Metallica to Kelly Clarkson.

I went through and found my favorite covers and added them to a playlist.  Unfortunately, I can’t play or embed this playlist until I have “45 songs by at least 15 different artists”, so I’m going to work on that one, but check it out:

Brad’s Strings Playlist on Last.fm

Update: I added additional artists and tracks so I could asctually get an embedable playlist:

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MIB: Make It Brad

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The Jamba Juice White Gummybear

A couple of years ago a friend of mine introduced me to the Jamba Juice secret menu. This collection of smoothies created by the Jamba Juicers gets shared between locations, and occasionally gets modified along the way. In its hayday you could simply ask for one of these drinks by name and if the jamba juicer taking your order knew what you were talking about they would make it for you, no problem.

Somewhere along the line there must have been complaints, as particularly picky customers asked for one smoothy at a location new to them, and got the version of that smoothy that particular location was making (as I mentioned the recipes did get modified slightly along the way). This may or may not have involved alergies and lawsuits, but Jamba Juicers will not longer make these drinks simply by ordering them by name any more.

Anyway, now that you have some background on the “secret menu,” I will share with you my favorite item off this “hidden” menu, the White Gummybear. As it’s name suggests, its flavor mimics that of a white gummybear. The first one I ever tasted was at the Davis Commons Jamba Juice in Davis, Ca. It was the best smoothy I had ever tasted. I have been ordering this smoothy at different locations I visit, and it definately varies from one to the next. Even ordering it at the same location on different occasions results in a unique smoothy experience. It could have been my wonder and marvel at this new and delicious flavor, but I can never get a White Gummybear that tastes as good as the first one so many years ago.

I mentioned that you can no longer order off the “secret menu” by item name (unless you are really cool with the person behind counter, and they know what you are talking about, of course). So now that I have got you wanting to taste this delicious beverage, how can you order one? I asked this question to my friend who made me my first White Gummybear, and she told me I could order it if I had the recipe. I have kept this recipe secret for a long time, but today I am posting it for all to see and enjoy:

White Gummybear

  • Light Soymilk
  • Light Peach Juice
  • 1 Small scoop of every ice cream except sorbet
  • 1 Scoop peaches.

Pretty simple I guess, although unless you know exactly what ice cream is availble to the crew at Jamba Juice, it is unlikely you will be able to reproduce this at home (if anyone tries it let me know how it goes).

So what led me to releasing this information now? I’ve been carrying this recipe around in my wallet for some time, and decided it was time to take it out as it was becoming unreadable. Instead of risking losing it forever in my desk drawer, I wanted it on the internet so everyone could enjoy it, and I could find it again in case I lost it.

Enjoy.

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